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Gillette gets 11 years for fraud

ROCKFORD - Convicted investment broker Nevin Gillette was sentenced Friday to 11 years in federal prison, and ordered to pay restitution, for stealing more than $7 million from 55 investors in a long-running Ponzi scheme.

The exact amount Gillette must repay has yet to be determined; the prosecution has 30 days to submit its estimate to U.S. District Judge Philip Reinhard, and the defense has 15 days after that to respond.

Gillette, who pleaded guilty in May to wire and mail fraud, actually was sentenced to 11 years on each charge; the sentences will be served concurrently, possibly in the Oxford federal prison in Oxford, Wis., the judge said.

After he is released, 10 percent of Gillette's net income must go toward restitution, the judge ruled. There is no parole in the federal court system, so he will serve the bulk of the sentence, although it is possible to earn some "good-time credit." After his sentence is served, he will be on supervised release for three years. Reinhard declined to levy a fine, he said, because he did not want to make it more difficult for the victims to be paid.

"People put their trust into you," Reinhard said. "You knew their assets and future plans. You were a great salesman, (and) you took advantage and lied to these people repeatedly. You said their money was safe, when you knew perfectly well you had stolen it from them."

When he was arrested, assets including about $1.4 million in recreational equipment, $135,000 in artwork, much jewelry and hundreds of suits were discovered, investigators have said.

"You acted like a big shot in a small community," Reinhard said.

In a prepared statement, Gillette apologized to his victims.

"I'd like to apologize to all the people I have harmed," Gillette said. "I'm sorry for all the harm I've caused. I'm sorry my family name has suffered for what I have done. I wanted my personal success to be greater than anyone else's."

As part of his sentence, Gillette must undergo treatment for alcohol abuse and bi-polarism during and after his prison stay. He has claimed his mental disorder contributed to his crimes.

Four of the hearing's five hours were taken up with Assistant U.S. Attorney John McKenzie and defense attorney Dan Cain arguing over how many victims there are, and how much money they are owed.

After the hearing, about 15 former investors and a handful of Gillette's relatives watched as federal marshals took him into custody. He laid his navy blue suit jacket and light blue tie on the table, and was taken away in handcuffs as two of his relatives cried.

Reach Joseph Bustos at (815) 625-3600 or (800) 798-4085, ext. 529.

Reach Joseph Bustos at (815) 284-2222 or (800) 798-4085, ext. 529.

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